Chavez Plaza renovations wrapping up

Published: Tuesday, Apr. 16, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3B
Last Modified: Tuesday, Apr. 16, 2013 - 7:05 am

City contractors are wrapping up renovation work at Cesar E. Chavez Plaza in time for the start of farmers market season on May 1.

"We're hitting the home stretch," said Philip Pizzo, general manager for Abide Builders, the main contractor for the project.

Last week, Pizzo's workers at the park across from Sacramento City Hall could be seen pouring concrete and cleaning up the site in preparation for landscapers to start reseeding the lawn.

Parkgoers will see some changes, including a better stage, more seating areas and solar-powered trash cans. The Cesar E. Chavez sculpture of the late farm labor leader will be repolished and placed on a new granite base facing City Hall.

The two-month project is the final phase of a three-part renovation plan that started in February 2012.

"The last time we did major work was around the year 2000," said J.P. Tindell, manager of park planning and development with the city of Sacramento. "This is going to be the last project in the foreseeable future."

The latest phase has a price tag of $443,000 and is funded by dollars collected from private development projects.

David Green, 27, of Sacramento spends the better part of his afternoons at the plaza, lounging and sometimes reading books.

"It's one of the few areas in downtown Sacramento where you can sit without being in a restaurant," he said.

The renovations are a response to the park's growing role as a downtown entertainment hotspot. The Friday night concerts in the summer, along with the Wednesday farmers market, both organized by the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, have proved to be a hit with local residents.

"We have anywhere from 3,000 to 4,000 people that come through," Annie Stuckert, event manager for the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, said of the weekly farmers market.

The installation of new benches and picnic tables will accommodate more people during peak hours and special events.

"We replaced seating because there really wasn't enough. Now there's a whole series of benches," Tindell said.

The high-tech, solar-powered trash receptacles are part of an experiment being rolled out by the city at select parks. The trash cans, which cost $5,000 apiece, self-compact periodically, reducing the maintenance needed.

Green said the "casual" nature of the plaza is why he chooses it over other area parks.

"Capitol Park is too formal with all the politicians running around," he said.

Call The Bee's Richard Chang, (916) 321-1018. Follow him on Twitter @RichardYChang.

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